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« In Paris, the new local urban plan is a model of the kind not to be followed in schools »

Tribune. In support of its new “bioclimatic” local urban planning plan (PLU), currently being drawn up, the City of Paris has just made public its programmatic document, the planning and sustainable development project (PADD). This is a model of the kind not to be followed in town planning schools. I was able, for decades, to teach in a few moments the master plan of the Parisian agglomeration of Paul Delouvrier (1965), with a simple diagram: two South-East North-West axes, framing the valley of the Seine, limited through the five new towns, controlled and ordered the growth of Paris.

I would be hard pressed to do so for the guidelines currently produced by City Hall. If an urban policy is defined by the logical and chronological articulation between its strategic issues and the possible outcome of their contradictions, far from illustrating this virtue, the text often appears as an inventory of legitimate proposals, but hardly compatible with each other. Let us judge.

Who would be against a « Inclusive and united city », « Sustainable and virtuous », « Attractive and productive », offering « Quality housing for all » (mean middle and popular layers), allowing moreover the development of a « Urban agriculture », all in a controlled densification, maintaining or restoring « Breaths » necessary in the fabric of neighborhoods? When we know from the document itself that the capital has gained about 3 million square meters built from 2006 to 2020, while losing a few tens of thousands of inhabitants, and that the increase in real estate prices has nevertheless continued to rise to assert oneself, one does not understand by what wave of a magic wand, these ideal objectives would suddenly become accessible.

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The same is true for the city’s other major project: the transformation of the ring road into « Urban boulevard, pacified, inhabited and vegetated ». Here again, who would be opposed to the elimination of this respiratory, acoustic and visual nuisance, suffered daily by tens of thousands of Parisians? But not a word is said about the major political problem posed by the sustainable border – since 1860! – between Paris and its suburbs, and above all means to substitute for the major circulatory functionality of a vital artery, in the current state, for the mobility of inhabitants and the transport of goods. Always the proposed virtue in place of reality.

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